Divorce in the Digital Age

It is critically important for anyone who is navigating a divorce or child custody situation to understand how their online activity and electronic communications can ultimately influence the outcome of their legal circumstances. Not so long ago, it was rare that any communication between spouses or co-parents was recorded unless the parties wrote each other physical letters. Nowadays, email, texting, social media engagement, and utilization of any number of additional electronic and/or digital platforms has led to records of many—if not most—communications between couples who are going through a split.

Even if your social media privacy settings are engaged and even if you post on sites or utilize platforms anonymously, if your spouse’s attorney is motivated, they can find your activity and use it against you during the course of your divorce or other family law matter. Additionally, anything that you write in an email, text, or anywhere else that can be retrieved electronically can be used against you in a similar manner. This is true regardless of whether you’re writing to your spouse or to any other party other than your attorney (as nearly all communications between attorneys and clients are protected per attorney-client privilege).

Should You Stop Communication Electronically for Now?

As experienced Tampa, FL family attorneys – including those who practice at The McKinney Law Group – understand, it isn’t always reasonable to stop communicating electronically for the duration of a family law case. It may not even be possible for a client to stop emailing, texting, engaging on social media, and otherwise leaving a digital footprint behind for others to follow until a divorce or child custody case has concluded. As a result, it is critically important to make sound, informed choices about the ways in which you continue to utilize these forms of communication until your case is resolved—and to minimize your electronic communication until that time.

You may be thinking, “If I just don’t say anything about the divorce, my spouse, or my kids in my communications, I’ll be fine.” While this approach is a great start to minimizing your potential for case-related harm, it isn’t quite enough to insulate you from risk. Why? Imagine that you have just posted a picture of a new boat that you’ve purchased on your Facebook page. Seems like a pretty harmless post, right? Your spouse’s attorney could use this picture as evidence that you are squandering marital assets, that you are irresponsible with money, or that you’re out having fun on your boat instead of having fun with your kids. Any of these accusations may or may not be true and otherwise grounded in additional evidence. But, regardless of whether the accusations are founded, you don’t want to give “the other side” any more ammunition to use against your case than you have to. Be exceptionally careful in re: how you communicate electronically at this time and connect with a lawyer if you have questions about whether any given communication could unintentionally land you in hot water.